Poetry by Neil Ellman

Departure of a Ghost

(watercolor/gouache by Paul Klee)

Paul Klee's Departure of a Ghost

Paul Klee’s Departure of a Ghost










The ghost of my other self

my inner self, my alter self

lives with me, shares my bed,

my life as if it were its life

a place at my table

within my house

as if it were its own.


it stays        it stays

whatever I might say

it lingers

like an uninvited guest

stayed too long.


I hear its disembodied voice

pleading for a place to be

alive like me

I know that it must go

and leave me to my life

alone        with a kind of peace

I had never known.


And then it disappears

my other self        a wisp of smoke

into the air

leaving me alone

the lesser of the two of us.


Small Garden Ghost

(watercolor by Paul Klee)

Paul Klee's Small Garden Ghost

Paul Klee’s Small Garden Ghost










Where aging flowers go to die

to lose the color of their eyes and skin

bleached like bones on a desert flat

turning  from blue to orange

and then to crackling brown

under an implacable sun

and then as transparent

as the shimmering heat

that hovers like a ghost.


Where a rose forgotten

becomes a forgotten ghost

In a garden on the edge of time

a rose no more     a garden no more

just the ghost of yesterday

in a garden filled with death.


The Saint of Inner Light

(lithograph by Paul Klee)

Paul Klee's The Saint of Inner Light

Paul Klee’s The Saint of Inner Light










The first miracle

was an ever-burning light

deep within her soul

where no light enters

or escapes

glowing with the ferocity

of who she was

blue-green and brutal

before it flared

into an orange flame

of piety.


The second:  the journey

naked      alone      afraid

to feel the tongues of his fire

licking at her breasts

as if she were being

tested and tortured

at the stake     never to return

cleansed and beatified

to be canonized

The Saint of Inner Light.